AT Week 2_Rangeley to Monson

Finding time to sit and write has been a challenge. This past week was filled with high mileage days broken up by town visits to gorge on calories. Because you know, “Treat Yourself!”

Only 2000 miles remaining

After my first week hiking through the 100 Mile Wilderness, I stepped on to the scale at Shaw’s Hiker Hostel in Monson and was shocked to see I had lost 12 pounds. That night I ate anything I could get my hands on to help replenish my body. Many how-to guides I read before this trip warned of men in particular losing large amounts of body weight when doing long distance thru hiking like the AT.

Until now my experience on trail is best described as a passionate day hiker. I was used to only having a protein shake and coffee in the morning during a drive to the trailhead, snacking lightly at the summit, and then stopping at the closest Mickey D’s on the return trip home as a reward for the days effort. But this routine hasn’t served me well on the trail.

Morning views

Like the cars we drive, each day I have to remember that I am a machine of sorts and require water to keep from overheating and also need fuel in the tank to reach the next destination. Lacking a dashboard filled with gauges and warning lights, I’m slowly becoming attuned to the signs of dehydration and the feeling of “zonk”. There were a few times after a long hot day to reach camp when, leaning over to setup my tent, I almost passed out due to low blood sugar and lack of water.

Establishing a new cycle of water and snack breaks has helped to increase my daily mileage and prevented nights rolling into camp completely wiped. With this new regimen, I hiked the roughly 110 miles from Monson to Rangeley in six days, spending two nights in hostels to reload on calories.

The Hiker Burger

Caloric deficits and a supercharged metabolism are no match for mere pub food…trust me. My new “hiker hunger” was put to the test in Caratunk at the Kennebec River Pub where I ate a salad, an order of fried pickles, and a 2lb double bacon cheeseburger, and then had room for Ben and Jerry’s later at the inn. I slept like a baby that night.

With the New Hampshire border fast approaching, I am eager to enter the Granite State and bid farewell to my homeland of Maine. New skills in hand and a growing appetite for more, I keep on my course heading south to Georgia.

AT Week 1_Katahdin to Monson

This week was a lesson in patience and listening to my body.

I started strong the first four days on trail, averaging 18 miles a day through some hot and humid Maine weather, but sleeping on the ground is taking some practice and has led to waking up not fully recovered.

My screaming quads finally forced a double zero to allow for rest and repair but provided a learning experience to take it slow and allow my body to recuperate. Passing by dozens of NOBOs who all were battle hardened from months of thru-hiking, my excitement kept building for the miles that lay ahead of me and led to overworking my muscles before gaining my full “trail legs”.

Laying in the shade on one of the hottest days so far by the shore of East Chairback Pond I read, napped, and soaked in the healing beauty of the 100 Mile Wilderness. The remoteness and isolation allow for a clearer mindset where the daily essentials of life fall into finer detail. When the only requirements are food, water and shelter, minor outside stresses become petty, bringing the task of survival to the top of the list.

Reminding myself that a zero day…or two was not an admission of failure but more an acceptance of the new life I have chosen for the next few months brought me a calm that has helped to ease the tension of rushing through this grand adventure.

Asking a million questions of the friendly hikers that I encounter, I am steadily gaining the knowledge needed to keep a positive mental attitude and the skills to bring my pace up.

Poet and Hippie Chick, proprietors of the Shaws Hiker Hostel in Monson, are the most welcoming and insightful people I have met on trail. Getting a proper gear shakedown to lighten the load I will be carrying, having family style meals including moose burgers and lobsters, all while bumping elbows with and soaking in as many tips as possible from all the accomplished guest hikers I have met here – 40 Ounce, Ben, Newton, Raisin, Ragnar, Hagrid, Blacklight, Time Keeper, Feather, Ketchup, David, and Picnic Basket – plus countless others whose names I am forgetting here.

Hyperlite How-To Article

Hyperlite Mountain Gear makes some of the best hiking gear on the market and they are headquartered in my home town of Biddeford Maine. I will be contributing to their blog during my SOBO AT hike and providing feedback on some new prototypes they have been working on.

Use code ZBAT15 to save 15% off any of their excellent backpacks while supporting a small local Maine company. I highly recommend the Windrider 3400 which is the pack I am currently using on the AT but they make something for just about any hiker or outdoor explorer.